If you are any sort of gamer, you’ve probably heard about the “demonic” and “communist-esque” always-on products. Over the past years, this thought train has been drilled in many skulls, but is it honestly that bad? I mean sure it’s inconvenient to most gamers, but will it really mean the end of gaming as a whole and bring on an age where no internet means no games?

The most recent and memorable game to have suffered from said issue is the now-infamous SimCity, which suffered tumultuous server issues on the day of its launch. This game was flooded by controversy, vastly overshadowing any positive news about its development just because of the always-on DRM. Nasty, unwashed internet nerds cried because big, bad EA had the nerve to make changes to an IP that belonged to them.

SimCity Panoramic_656x369

And sure the opening week of SimCity was bad, but what did you expect from a game that had 12 million pre-orders in a span of six months? Who could possibly have predicted that so many people would order and play this in such a rapid succession?  Even the monstrous Call of Duty does not get such a massive number of pre-orders. This game had some massive shoes to fill and unfortunately had a rocky beginning.  Furthermore, the problems with the changes that were made to SimCity weren’t accepted by the hardcore community, but the main point of this franchise reboot was to streamline the experience enough that anyone could possibly understand the game.

This is more of a problem with the changing industry rather then always-on, but it still had a huge impact on the game. Besides the point , always-on allowed for player interaction. The community craved co-op from the very beginning and this was the platform needed for such a thing to happen.  Just because we are so used to games that don’t limit us at all, doesn’t mean we cant live with such games that make these requests.

The main problem was that SimCity was aimed to the casual market. The always-on was a way for people with not so good computers to  play a game that is typically for “core” gamers who own thousand dollar PCs. The gaming industry is not just geared to core gamers, but has opened up to the casual market. Some consider this bad and some consider it good, but its just too soon to really see the impact this will have on the those that consider themselves the core group and what will happen to the games we know and love as the industry evolves.

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  • Charles Kheng
    May 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I have to disagree here.

    Developers do not have to use always online for player interaction. Especially for games with a single player component. That is a lousy excuse which does not hold. You only have to take a look at games like Diablo 2, Starcraft, and Red Dead Redemption.

    No doubt, the multiplayer will require an online connection but forcing the multiplayer on players by using always online like in SimCity is a poor excuse on EA and Maxis part. Players should be allowed to choose if they wish to experience the multiplayer, not have it forced down their throats.

    And what happens 10 years down the road when they decide to take down the servers? You won’t be able to play these always online games anymore. I can enjoy Red Dead Redemption forever should I keep my Xbox 360 and my copy of it.

    But should EA go bust or decide to take it down, SimCity would enter oblivion. And this goes for Far Cry 3, Diablo 3 and virtually all of Ubisoft’s recent titles. Furthermore, SimCity issues were not exactly because of the massive number of players. They even had issues one month after the game launched.

    If you like, you can read more about my stand on always online.

  • Daniel Flatt
    May 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I partially disagree.

    Though I have no interest in SimCity, there was absolutely no reason why it couldn’t have an offline mode that was sans the online feature if you weren’t connected. The fact is clear that they put it in to dissuade pirates, the same reason that Diablo 3 did it. Consumers pay for people who steal games, but really this is the way it’s been since Kindergarten: one group of people ruins it for everyone.

    DRM is here to stay, but I’m like you that I get a little frustrated with some gamers complaining about it. While I don’t agree with always online at all, I think that a lot of the people that complain are about as far from the ones affected by such things as possible. Most gamers have spanking fast internet capability that is rarely down, we know because they usually are throwing fits via 4G the minute it does go down.

    All that being said I think that the point of the article could have been presented in a less antagonistic way. By saying things like “angry unwashed nerds” and mocking others perspectives from the very start, your post reads like pure flame bait, whether it was written that way or not.

    I believe your views are genuine and that you are trying to be a person saying, “hey maybe it’s not the end of the world”. The way you went about it though was well written, but poorly posed.

  • Taylor Parolini
    May 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    “Nasty, unwashed internet nerds cried because big, bad EA had the nerve to make changes to an IP that belonged to them.”

    It’s wrong to belittle and stereotype a group of people in order to make an argument against a position.

    • Isaacmo
      May 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      More in the sense that it is EA’s game. They own the franchise and can do whatever they want with it. Its as if Walmart were to stop selling Nutella. They are a company and can make their own decisions. Sometimes we just don’t accept them. That’s part of the problem.

  • Christopher Deleanides
    May 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Well yeah, they can make their own decisions, but so can customers. They have their rights to complain about a product just as a corporation has the right to do with it as they please (provided it’s within the legal boundaries).

  • bleachorange
    May 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I disagree with limiting my gaming to having to have internet access the way I need electricity. If I wanted to, I could take my laptop and a solar charger on a hiking trip or cruise and play XCOM (or any game without always-online). Not so for games like SimCity and D3. Admittedly, I probably would not be worried about that while hiking or on a cruise, but the fact of the matter is that my gaming is not restricted to internet access, or even access speeds. It is limited by electricity to run my machine.

    I don’t agree with the design decisions by EA and other big companies on all the forced social aspects of the games they create. However, they are clearly going where the most profit is at. And there’s nothing wrong with that; if I were in charge of EA and I could make more money by having everything always online with subscriptions, I would do that. Because it would be my job to make money for my shareholders. So if you dislike where these practices are going, boycott them like I do. Otherwise, quit whining about stuff you cave to in the end.

  • Jimmy
    May 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Honestly I have no problem with the internet, AS LONG AS ITS OPTIONAL. There are literally no consumer benefits at all from a console being always online, it just means that you have relinquished control to the manufacturer from yourself

  • Massacrec
    May 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Here is the thing. I love the Internet I think its great! I love everything about it and will continue using it as long as I exist. However, I can hardly say I think it should be mandatory to use… Especially for a game console, people talking about always connected, yes you are right our devises are connected, but there is one key aspect they missed. You can turn off the internet/3g and all the applications work. Why is it I can flick on switch on my phone to turn it on air-plain mode and continue to play temple run but I can’t with my console. MS has no idea what the circumstances will be. Maybe I’m bringing my console to my cabin for a week and we want to chill and play Skyrim. Maybe I’m in the military and I’m bringing it over seas when I have nothing to do. Maybe I’m bringing it to Grandmas house who never even got an internet connection. What if I’m going on a cruise or staying in a hotel room? What if I want to set up my console in my friend’s basement or attic where Wi-Fi doesn’t really reach well? What about in college and high school where kids swap games and consoles. Set them up in cafeterias and recreation rooms to have competitions and just generally are moving them around? I guess they better have an internet connection and a place to put Kinect. . .what about them?

    Well then apparently I am unable to use it. You see that was one of the great things about the every console apparently expect for this one; there was flexibility in where and when you could use it without any sort of restrictions. But now apparently that’s not really an option.

    And you know as a consumer I get it, they are trying to turn into a cable/entertainment box. But just looking at the statics an estimated one out of three x360 owners are not connected.

    Why would MS want to give up on 27 million customers?

    I love the Internet, but I also love the OPTION to use it or not should I so choose.

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